The Meeting

(NB Names fabricated and do not refer to any real people with those names!)


“Well, good afternoon to everyone, and I’m grateful to Julian for this opportunity to explain our proposal to some of the key players.  Of course we’re very interested in understanding all our stakeholders’ views, and what I thought would be most impactful today is to provide you with a high-level market perspective and give an overview of the core processes – though please let me know if you prefer an alternative approach, as we’re keen to socialize this issue in the most pertinent way.  So – on this introductory slide, I’ve provided a simplified Venn diagram of the overarching framework and some of the main drivers…”

Julian R Goodfellow, Finance Director

Right.  Now we’ve got these people in, maybe we’ll make some progress.  I need to get this company moving as quickly as possible.   The sooner I sort it out, the sooner I can move on to something more lucrative.  This whole set up is so second rate.  The staffing for a start.  I mean, look at the bunch in this room – half of them are just not up to scratch.  Tom is such a lightweight – just doesn’t contribute anything at all.  Miles – was impressed with him at first, but now I can’t work him out, seems like he’s got his own agenda.  And that Matthew, talk about rotten wood – stuck in the past, living in a different world.  I’ve really got to look at letting him go.  Prunella, well she’s alright – bit hung up but got her uses, I must admit.  And who’s this new trainee?  Can’t remember her name.  Another young bimbo in a short skirt – really, how are we supposed to take these women seriously?  Mind you, maybe I need to check that out, I’ll see if I can catch her afterwards for a chat…


“Moving on, our key concern is to demonstrate the robustness of each of the proposed processes, and show you how by optimising the modelling, we can attain the best flexibility – whilst at the same time ensuring we are proactively positioning ourselves to the best advantage, and not compromising on our deliverables…”

Prunella Watson-Smythe, HR Director

Oh my God, how the hell am I supposed to concentrate on this stuff when I’m so distracted?  I’m so worried about Bobby, what sort of world to do we live in when so many children are being bullied, and what am I actually supposed to do about it?  Does it make me a bad parent because some other spoiled brat is being nasty to my son?  I’m going to have to pursue it with the school, but it’s all such a hassle, when it was such a problem getting him in there in the first place.  And it would help if Mark wasn’t so absolutely useless about everything, he just doesn’t give me any support.  First Susan with her little problem, and then Michael having his accident.  Now Bobby giving us a headache as well, and what does Mark do to help me, when I need him most?  Nothing.  Out watching motor-racing and going to silly veteran car rallies…if that’s what he’s really doing, which I doubt.  Oh God, it’s no wonder I’ve turned to Julian.  He’s just so positive and competent and reassuring.  He always seems so on top of everything – oh dear, yes, on top of me too!  I shouldn’t have let him I suppose, but it’s been such a relief, to have something nice happening, something that’s just about me.  I can see him looking at me across the table, he must be thinking about the other day in his office.  Can’t really believe I did something like that.  Oh God, I mustn’t catch his eye or I’ll smile, we must really be very careful…


“Now obviously a primary requirement here is to do a robust cost benefit analysis, bearing in mind qualitative as well as quantitative issues, so as to improve the visibility of any possible obstacles and being able to ascertain the most favourable level of uplift…”

Tom Fooks, Operations Manager

How can anyone possibly have any interest in this garbage?  Is anyone in this room even listening to what this guy is on about?  What an absolute and utter waste of everybody’s time.  But we all have to toe the line, go through the motions.  We’ve all got commitments, we’ve all got to cling onto our incomes and our lifestyle.  But I just don’t know any more.  Every morning I’m angry before I even get here because of all the endless problems with the trains, and with having to listen to people shouting down their phones right next to me, or playing ridiculously to loud music.  If I see that tall guy again blaring out his crap, I swear I’ll thump him.  How can people be so selfish?  Why doesn’t anyone say anything?  Where’s the power in numbers, where’s the social pressure?  Everyone’s annoyed by it, but no-one will say anything, no-one would dare.  I’ve been commuting for fifteen years now, and I’ve just about had it, really.  I’m going to have another look at that franchise idea.  I want to get away from this city, start a different life, have a bit of peace and quiet.  It can’t be impossible, surely.  And I don’t know, I can’t be the only one of us cynical about this consultancy and outsourcing stuff.  What’s it going to achieve?  It’s all just a ploy.  I bet our friend Julian has got a kickback from engaging this firm – from what I’ve heard he’s not exactly ethical.  What would happen if I stood up and suggested that this was all complete rubbish and we should all go home?  Emperor’s new clothes.  Time for a revolution.  I guess I won’t really, though.  Wage slave like everyone else.  Mind you, if this guy uses the word ‘robust’ once more, I’m getting up and walking out of this meeting…


“So how exactly will this strategy manifest itself going forward, and will the market perception be favourable across the board?  Well, that’s a very apposite question.  Looking at it at the macro level, and bearing in mind the profile of our business and the need for sustainability of tactical approach…”

Mary Etherington, Finance Associate

Oh no, I don’t believe I’ve got to go to the toilet again already!  I’ve just been!  Surely I’ve just been, about fifteen minutes ago.  And I deliberately didn’t have a drink before the meeting, I’ve been so worried recently about getting through them.  It’s age, that’s the problem.  It’s been getting worse and worse and now it’s becoming debilitating.  What am I going to do if I can’t come in to work any more?  I can’t keep taking sick days because of it, it would be so difficult to explain and no-one would understand.  I’d just get written off as old.  I’ve got to keep trying to hide it, but honestly, I’ve been so embarrassed at the thought of having an accident.  Like the other day, that was really a close shave.  What if that happens again and I can’t get away to deal with it?  So what on earth am I going to do right now?  Well, I can’t keep sitting here, I can’t wet myself all over one of these lovely conference room chairs!  So there’s nothing for it.  I won’t make it to the end of the meeting, so I’ll just have to embarrass myself by getting up.  And everyone will know why.  I haven’t received an urgent phone call, I don’t have another meeting to go to.  So everyone will realise it’s because the old biddy has to go to the toilet.  Oh, why does my boss have to be in here with me?  He’ll be furious that I’ve gone out.  I’m supposed to be understanding what’s being said because I’ll be one of the people acting on all this.  But I can’t think about it at all, when I’m in a panic about incontinence!  Well there’s nothing for it, the only question is how long I should wait.  If I go now, what if I don’t make it to the end of the meeting and end up having to go out twice?  So I’ll have to wait as long as possible, but then it’s more risky of course.  So maybe in another ten minutes or so maximum.  But it’s so difficult to judge, it’s so depressing that my body’s letting me down!  Now where’s the nearest ladies, that’s the thing.  I’m not sure if there’s one down the hall.  Did I see one?  I suppose I’ll have to go to those on the ground floor…


“There isn’t always a sufficiently unbiased understanding of likely pitfalls, so we need to drill down into the underlying figures and use the resulting granularity wisely, so as to leave ourselves some headroom when it comes to finalising the business case…”

Miles Penshurst, Senior Audit Secondee

Hmm, this is all too general, not the sort of thing I can use.  I need specifics, if I’m going to deliver.  Sometimes I wish I hadn’t got into this industrial espionage lark, but the rewards are too great.  Usually it’s easy.  You either go the people route, befriend someone important and get the relevant information out of them down the pub, or else crack the IT systems.  Then you can just browse through everyone’s directories and pick up anything that’s interesting.  But this time I’ve got a particular brief.  They want forecasts.  In detail.  By country and by sector.  The financial nitty gritty.  The stuff that’s currently too confidential for me to get anywhere near.  But it’s only a matter of time.  I’ve always come up with the goods in the past, I’m good at this.  Now let me see, who’s on the attendance list?  I need an IT guy.  Oh, that guy over there, Jack.  Don’t know him.  Not quite sure how to get an opening there.  He looks the nerdy type, probably a bit lonely, maybe he needs befriending.  Massage his ego, get him to tell me all about the latest password protocols.  Worth a try anyway.  Otherwise, well I’ll just have to play the audit card.  That’s why I got into this boring business in the first place, wasn’t it?  An auditor can ask pretty much anything, and people have to cough up the information.  Yeah, yeah, so I’ve signed a few bits of paper about confidentiality and integrity, but what the hell.  These sorts of firms screw everyone else, so I don’t care too much if they get screwed themselves occasionally.  Anyway, I’ve got debts.  That Deborah broad is pushing me to bail her out, but I’ll have to give that some thought, I’ve seriously gone off the cow.  And my dealer – if it wasn’t for him hassling me all the time I might not have to get my hands so dirty.  But once you’ve started, it’s difficult to stop.  So it’s time to focus.  I just need to get those forecasts.  Maybe I should try listening to this stuff for a minute, just in case I can glean anything that might have a price tag attached to it…


“As you can deduce from the second bullet point on this dashboard, the absolute key is to manage expectations so that we can see what will impact the credibility of the enterprise and ensure that its execution will be appropriately vigorous in the short to medium term…”

Geoff Taylor, Governance Advisor

Twenty three million pounds!  Twenty three million!  It’s just unbelievable, it’s more than a dream come true.  Just one million would have been enough to stop work for ever, and that’s what everyone basically wishes for, isn’t it, when it comes to winning the lottery.  And I nearly didn’t bother.  It was because I was so cheesed off about that letter from the insurance company.  Hah, they can stuff it now!  Won’t be in that house for a start, will get myself out of there absolutely as soon as possible.  Oh, there are so many things I can do now.  Get myself a top notch car, for a start.  And I’ll be able to travel, there will be so many places I can visit, so many interesting and obscure things I can do.  I’ll have to think about how exactly to handle the rest of my life.  No rush to get it all sorted now.  I don’t think I’ll sink too much of it into property.  I’ll just buy one relatively modest place to call home long term – maybe for just one or two, or maybe three, million.  I’ll go and live in different bits of the world, say three months at a time.  See how I feel about different places.  See where I might want to settle long term – if I ever settle anywhere.  I just really need to think about the whole thing, though.  Think about whether to tell people.  Don’t want everyone after me for money, do I, and yet I can’t entirely ignore my family.  And my mates – should I give them anything?  If it gets out that I’m rich, well you know what they say, you’ll never know whether anyone really likes you and wants to be your friend for yourself, or if it will all be for your money only.  So maybe I should keep those friends, the people who knew me before my circumstances changed.  Funny, you think having your numbers come up will solve all your problems, but you immediately have a new set of things to worry about.  Like not wanting to die!  Now I’ve got money, I want to make sure I’ve got time to spend it and enjoy it.  I’m not going to do anything dangerous or risky, I need to keep myself safe.  And yet I’m going to be on planes a lot, and driving fast cars a lot – so I’ll get paranoid about dying, I bet.  I probably can’t think straight cos I didn’t get any sleep.  I know it does seem so stupid to come back into work once you’ve won the lottery.  Bet most people wouldn’t do it, they’d just never go back, from day one.  But I’ve always found it hard to let things go.  So I thought I’d just do one more day – one more day in this grotty job, just for the absolute pleasure of thinking that I’ll never have to come back here again, that I can brush this whole part of my life away, and leave all these work issues to someone else.  Oh yes, I couldn’t resist it.  Just looking at all these people and thinking that I will never have to see a single one of them ever again, because I’ll be sitting in a bar in Montecarlo or lazing on a beach in the Florida Keys…


“Looked at holistically, and remaining sensitive to market sentiment, we believe there is substantial resilience in this type of approach.  However, a lot will depend on the functionality of the core stratagems…” 

Julie Staines,  Legal Trainee

Did he just say that regulation wasn’t an issue in that sector?  Hold on.  Surely that’s not right.  What about competition law?  Doesn’t anyone else see that?  I’m sure there was a case study in my last module about a situation just like this.  I suppose I could raise it as a question, but no-one else has said a word, so they must be agreeing with everything.  And what if there’s something I haven’t thought of, and it turns out to be a stupid comment?  Then they’ll all turn round and glare at me, and I’ll die of embarrassment.  It’s hard enough to build up any sort of credibility, as a trainee.  Everyone thinks that being young is a bad thing, because you’ve got no experience, whereas of course older people have so much more of it.  I see that, but maybe they’re not always right.  Maybe they’re stuck in old-fashioned ways of thinking.  Maybe young people are more up on modern affairs, are more likely to look up the current position on something, if only to try to progress their own careers.  But I suppose I won’t say anything because I’m not a hundred percent sure, and I don’t want to risk making a mistake.  No, best to keep quiet, I’m way too junior to say anything in this situation.  And a newcomer.  I’ll keep it to myself.  But what’s this now?  Surely in the scenario he’s just described, there would be a serious conflict of interest problem.  They can’t possibly have forgotten about an important issue like that.  There’s no way they would go ahead without checking, surely.  So I won’t worry about it.  But I’m absolutely certain that the Companies Act says that sort of transaction just isn’t possible…


“But what about risk appetite?  Well if we want to build a capability in Asia, we need to think strategically and focus on managing local risk in the most expedient way, bearing in mind the various regulatory constraints and the volatility of a more supply-driven market…”

Jack Stanley, IT Expert

Oh rats, I reckon I’m in the wrong blasted meeting!  Surely this can’t be relevant to me.  I think they’ve muddled me up with Jack on the fourth floor, it’s always happening.  Well, a bit late to own up to it now, if I’d realised at the beginning maybe I could have slipped out.  Serves me right for doodling through the introduction – mind you, this rather rude little sketch I’ve done is quite amusing, I think I’ll keep it, show Stevie tonight, he’s into art, ha ha!  So how shall I amuse myself for the rest of the hour?  I could sit here pretending to take notes whilst writing a letter to my mum, it’s been done before!  God, that would be even more boring though.  Well, I’ll just have to think about what I always think about.  Oh yes, I can enjoy myself with a nice little private fantasy, and not even have to worry about missing anything – because I’m in the wrong meeting!  Oh, this will be so funny, at some point in the future.  As an anecdote.  Not particularly funny now though.  I wonder where I should be?  Too late to worry about that.  I’ll have to catch up.  Who cares anyway?  So where was I?  Oh yes, admiring the talent in this room.  Hm, well what are the options?  Julie – yes, definitely.  I’d love to bend her over that desk and do her now, in front of everyone.  Bet they’d love it, I certainly would.  Prunella – well, a bit on the old side, but I guess I still would.  Mary – no way!  Gives me the creeps to think about it.  Julian?  Possibly.  Absolutely sure thing that he’s dom, which I rather like with guys, but a bit too portly for my taste.  Now Tom, oh yes, I’ve noticed him before and deffo fancy him!  Reminds me a bit of a guy I picked up the other night.  Mm, how can I chat him up and invite him home to join me and Stevie?  I think he’s married, but that doesn’t mean anything.  If I had a penny for all the married guys I’ve had, as they say!  Miles?  Wouldn’t say no.  Looks the type, but a bit camp.  Though sometimes the camp ones can be completely straight, just to confuse us.  Now Miles and Tom, oh yes, that would be nice.  Right there on the floor in front of us.  Or even better, Miles and Tom and Julie – and me of course.  I’d better stop this, though, or I won’t be able to stand up when the meeting ends!  I’ll save it for when I’m in bed tonight.  Er, what was that?  This idiot’s just mentioned the name of the project I’m working on at the moment.  Whoops, maybe I’m not the wrong meeting after all…


“As well as undertaking considerable benchmarking, thorough project appraisal and criteria-based analysis, we have assessed the variables under multiple lenses, and the resulting ‘what if’ scenarios have demonstrated that the bottom line is…”

Matthew Tewsbury, Company Secretary

Well, I’m supposed to be taking the minutes of course, but I can’t really write any of this down.  Will just have to attach the presentation, if I can get hold of it.  Really just need a couple of sentences to explain what was presented and why – pretty difficult to work that out though, I must say.  Whatever happened to plain English?  Never mind, I’ll just use the title, that will do.  Then I’ll take notes again when they start discussing things.  I’m finding it a bit difficult to concentrate today, that’s the trouble.  I have good days and bad days.  Today I’m starting to feel the pain a bit more again.  I’m sure my dear Gladys is right, and that I really shouldn’t keep coming in to work.  I’m going to have to tell them sooner or later.  It’s just that I’ve been here so long and I don’t want to let anyone down.  There’s such a lot of coming and going in terms of personnel.  I’m the only one who’s been around since the beginning.  I know exactly what was said at every Board meeting over 30 years.  I’ve seen this sort of project tried at least twice in the past – tried and failed, of course, so I reckon they’re wasting their time trying it again now.  But it’s not really about what’s best for the company, that’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here.  It’s all about politics and who gets the credit for what, and who’s going to get a bonus because of some new scheme they bring in.  I mean I know for a fact that Julian went to school with this fellow’s dad, so there’s bound to be some mutual benefit and backscratching going on.  I do try to warn them, try to point out their obligations every so often.  But who listens to a Company Secretary?  I just get dismissed like I’m making a fuss over nothing.  Well, it won’t be me for much longer, that’s for sure.  The doctor said – well, I don’t want to think about his exact prediction.  I just hope I’ll last long enough to see our Lucy’s baby.  Would be nice to have had a grandchild.  Maybe just a few more weeks.  There’s the AGM soon and I wouldn’t want to leave that in the hands of the youngsters.  Not everyone realises the importance of getting the details right.  Maybe I’d better write some notes to leave behind, to make sure things run smoothly in future.  Yes, I suppose after the AGM I’d better call it a day, and spend a bit more time with Gladys before, well, before the end…


“Any questions?”

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